BJJ Legends


Born: 20 August, 1959 Rio de Janeiro
Sergio0 Penha is an historic figure in jiu jitsu’s landscape. A BJJ coral belt (7 grau) and a Judo black belt under Osvaldo Alves, he rose from purple belt to black belt without stopping at brown and proved his master right by giving the ‘almighty’ Rickson Gracie the toughest test in his jiu jitsu career. Regarded as a Jiu Jitsu prodigy during the 1980’s, Penha is also recognized as one of the main developers of the closed guard position. He later became a successful grappling coach having awarded former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir his black belt among many other high level grapplers.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie sr > Reyson Gracie > Osvaldo Alves > Sergio Penha


Sergio Penha was born on the 20th of August 1959 in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. He was an active sportsman as a youngster, training Beach Volleyball and Swimming. In 1977, however, he started training the sport that would change his life, jiu jitsu.

Both the jiu jitsu and Judo training walked hand in hand under the guidance of his master Osvaldo Alves. Training out of a small padded room in Osvaldo’s personal residence (the mat was so small that no more than 4 people could roll at the same time), and later at ‘Clube Olímpico’,  Sergio was transformed into a formidable fighter. Training hard with his team mate Pascoal Magalhães, the two became a synonym of the closed guard, causing great improvements to a position that barely existed in the sport at the time, and in just three years he achieved his black belt. Going from purple belt straight to black. The belt promotion was done with Helio Gracie‘s approval.

Just a few weeks after Sergio Penha received the black belt, he had a chance to test it at a tournament. In the semi finals of the absolute division he had a chance to test his grade against one of the greatest Jiu Jitsu fighters of all time, Mr Rickson Gracie. Penha fought bravely in one of the most celebrated fights in BJJ history, giving the Gracie a run for his money. Without any precedents in Rickson’s competitive track record, Penha managed to push him to the limit, having the score at 15×0 for Sergio by the time Rickson managed to pull off the submission win towards the very end.

Sergio Penha continued his legacy competing when the opportunity arose against some of the best fighters of his generation like Rolls Gracie‘s black belt “Mauricao” Gomes. Unfortunately for jiu jitsu, Sergio made a career decision at the age of 22, to become an airline pilot. Relegating his grappling activities to a secondary stage, he lived the life of a pilot residing in Brazil, Portugal and the USA.

After 22 years living away from his family (at the age of 44) Sergio decided to take a different direction in his life. Daring to do what many men would tremble to even think, he abandoned a prosperous career as an aircraft pilot to become a BJJ instructor. His family had been living in the US for many years (Las Vegas) and so the decision to move to the capital of the fight industry was easy one to make.

In Las Vegas Penha’s academy grew from strength to strength, paving the terrain for many champions. Many of who have now reached black belt level. People like: Jason Santos, Fabricio Moreira, Lauren Park, Mike Bland, Grant Okinaka, Rodrigo Alvarez, Lou Castro, Steve Cantwell, Kyle Kuwahara, Bobby Johnson, Patrick lacerda and even UFC former heavyweight champion Frank Mir and TUF season 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar.
On the 7th of June 2010 Sergio Penha was awarded his 7th Degree (grau) by the CBJJ, and consecutively his red and black belt, one of the greatest honours you can receive in Jiu Jitsu and a true testament to Penha’s value and prestige in the BJJ community.

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LEGENDS: Carlos Catania
Born: May 8, 1971


International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Certified 3rd Degree Black Belt and Resident Instructor at Bowie MMA in Bowie, Maryland

Carlos Catania, a native New Yorker and athlete, was introduced to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts through the esteemed Royler Gracie in 1997. A dedicated training regime with Royler Gracie in Basking Ridge, NJ. Carlos dedicated himself to the mats, competing in regional, national and international competitions, including the IBJJF World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After an 8-year partnership with Royler Gracie, who awarded his White, Blue, Purple and Brown Belts, Carlos decided to branch out within the BJJ community. He partnered with teammate Mike Monica and opened The Combat Zone in Fairfield, NJ. Feeling that he had competed with the best of the best to date, Carlos began traveling extensively to broaden his skill set and technique, looking for the next challenge.

In Las Vegas, a life changing experience occurred when he entered the Las Vegas Combat Club and met Sergio Penha, who opened his eyes to a whole new world. Within an hour, Carlos realized the power of a 45 year old man, 100 Kilos, and immediately fell in love with Sergio’s aggressive, no-mercy approach. The two forged a bond and Sergio became an immediate source of inspiration for Carlos. After three years of rigorous training, Penha awarded Carlos his Black Belt in 2005, which is one of less than a handful of Black Belts awarded by Penha in the US. Carlos holds that moment and his lifelong bond with Sergio Penha, his mentor, friend, and most fierce competitor, as his greatest honor and achievement in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After his pivotal years in Las Vegas with Penha and rolling with the likes of Frank Mir, Forrest Griffin, Heath Herring, Stephan Bonnar and many other top contenders, Carlos attributes his achievements to dedication, discipline, and an open-minded approach to the various styles and forms that he has encountered over the last 19 years. He has reached a stage in his life where he wants to share his appreciation and passion for the Mixed Martial Arts by giving back to a sport that has given him so much over the years.

BJJ Black Belt (from BJJ Red Belt -Sergio Penha)
2003 Grapplers Edge Absolute Champion
2003 NAGA Expert Division Champion
2001 BJJ World Championships Competitor
2000 NAGA Absolute Division Champion
1999 NAGA Advanced Division Champion
1999 NY Grappling Challenge Champion
1st Place Gracie United Tournament

image1 (3)Coach Stano brings 25 years of Wrestling and Martial Arts experience to the team as a former AAU Freestyle Wrestling National Champion and six-time Brazilian Jiu-jitsu World Champion. Recognized as an exceptional international grappler, he did not give up a single point in more than 20 matches over a three year span competing in Brazil.

IBBJF/ USBJJF 2nd Degree Black Belt Brazilian Jiu-jitsu under Carlos Catania under Sergio Penha
Captain of College Wrestling Team
Began competing in Submission Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 1998
Promoted to Blue belt in 1999 by Royce Gracie
Promoted to Purple Belt in 2002 by Saulo Riberio and Steve Maxwell
Received a Black belt in Thai Jitsu from Joe Priole in 2004
Began fighting professional Mixed Martial Arts matches in 2000
MMA career includes fights with UFC legend and Hall of Fame member, Dan “The Beast” Severn and former UFC Heavyweight Title contender, Jeff “The Snowman” Monson

2014 Catch as Catch Can Wrestling, World Heavyweight Champion
Former AAU Freestyle Wrestling National Champion
Two-time Michigan, All State wrestler
Div. II Wrestling National Qualifier
2000 Pan-Am Jiu-Jitsu Champion: Masters Blue-belt Heavyweight
2000 Rickson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Tournament, World Champion
2001 Jiu-Jitsu World Champion-Masters: Super-heavyweight Blue-belt
2001 Jiu-Jitsu World Champion-Masters: Blue-belt Absolute Division
2002 Jiu-Jitsu World Champion-Masters: Super heavyweight, Purple-belt div.
2003 Jiu-Jitsu World Champion-Masters: Super heavyweight, Purple-belt div.
2003 Jiu-Jitsu World Champion-Masters: Absolute Div., Purple-belt div.
3rd place HW in the 2009 Abu Dhabi N. American Qualifying Tournament
Eight time Grapplers Quest Submission Grappling Champion
Six time NAGA Submission Grappling Champion
Winner of several other tournament championships


Certified Catch as Catch Can Wrestler & Level 3 Coach: Under legendary Coach Billy Robinson (Scientific Wrestling)
Certified Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) Coach: Under Coach Erik Paulson (CSW Founder)
NI-DAN (2nd Degree Black Belt) in Shin-Gi-Tai Jujitsu: Under Coach John Saylor (former U.S. Olympic Training Center Head Coach and 3 time National Heavyweight Judo Champion)
IBJJF/USBJJF Certified Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Under 6X World Champion, Coach Patrick Stano, under Coaches Carlos Catania and Sergio Penha
Black Belt in Kodokan Judo: Under 3 x National Heavyweight Judo Champion, Coach John Saylor
3-Time Member, 2-Time Team Captain and former Assistant Coach of the United States Air Force “All Air Force Wrestling Team,” Under the expert tutelage of 2X U.S. Olympic Wrestling Coach, Floyd “Bad News” Winter
Certified USA Wrestling Coach: Copper and Bronze levels certified
Certified Fitness/Personal Trainer: International Sports Science Association (ISSA)
Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach: American Sport Education Program (ASEP)
Certified Modern Army Combative Program (MACP) Instructor: Levels I and II
Instructor: Global Combatives LLC: Military and Law Enforcement hand to hand combat
Instructor: Modern Martial Arts Fight Club LLC: “New Jerseys Official Toe Hold Club”
Member of the “International Network of Wrestling Reaserchers” (INWR)

Member of USA Wrestling, “New Jersey State Wrestling Association”
Competitive Mixed Martial Artist: “Reality Fighting” and “Combat in the Cage”
Won or placed in USA Wrestling’s U.S. Open & Armed Forces Wrestling Championships, NAGA, Grapplers Quest, U.S. Grappling, Mission Submission and Good-fight (expert/advanced No-Gi divisions) including North American and World Championships.
U.S. World Grappling Team Heavyweight alternate, No-Gi and Gi divisions, 2013 FILA World Championship
Member & Captain of The United States Air Force “All Air Force Wrestling Team” (2013, 2014 & 2015)
Coached 2008 Delaware State Championship Submission Grappling team.
Combat Sports and self defense instructor to U.S. Army MACP Instructors (2008-2011)
Has taught Grappling/Combative techniques to over 500 U.S. Military and Coalition Force members in the United States, and Afghanistan
Completed Krav Maga Personnel Security Detail (PSD) Combative training, (Afghanistan 2005)
Coach Bane is a 3 x Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and 1 x Iraqi Freedom. He is a USAF Security Forces Senior Non Commissioned Officer with over 19 years of Active Duty Military service. While deployed he led counter intelligence operations including but not limited to counter IED missions, personnel security details, weapons cache seizures and convoys. Joel is one of very few U.S. Air Force Sharpshooters and is a highly skilled small arms weapons expert.